On November 30, 2020, IHF asbl joined the online Kick-Off Meeting of SWIFT SME (Smart Working: Innovative & Flexible Training for SMEs), a Project co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission, which brings together six Partners from five countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Romania and Spain). The Kick-Off Meeting, hosted by the Centrum fur Innovation und Technologie GmbH (CIT) and Institut De Haute Formation aux Politiques Communautaires (IHF asbl), was originally planned in Brussels, but has been rescheduled online due to COVID-19 restrictions.
SMEs represent the backbone of the EU economy. Yet, they are also the least prepared to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and the related lockdown measures. Contrarily to large companies, SMEs are ill-equipped for the shift to remote work, lacking as they are both ICT systems and policies to ensure business continuity. According to the latest figures, less than 15% of EU SMEs are ready to implement Smart Working arrangements (European Commission).
The European Commission acknowledged the pressing need to make SMEs competitive and resilient by providing them with ICT solutions and practices to implement Smart Working. Not only is this transition an absolute necessity, but it also constitutes an opportunity, as it allows businesses to increase their efficiency and improve their employees’ working conditions (Eurofound/ILO).
The SWIFT project stands as a concrete response to the pressing need of equipping SMEs with new, innovative, and “agile” business models.
SWIFT specifically targets this most vulnerable yet essential segment of European economies to bridge the skill gap and make SMEs more flexible, responsive, efficient, and thus able to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis and in the post-pandemic world.
SWIFT will capitalise on the valuable experience of its consortium partners to provide SMEs with skills, competences, and tailored solutions to successfully implement Smart Working arrangements. In particular, partners will carry out the following activities:
- Develop the SWIFT OER Platform, a repository of knowledge accessible to all, free of charge, in full Open Access mode and in multilingual versions (DE, EN, IT, RO, ES)
- Develop a shared methodology for the mapping of current trends, threats, and opportunities (including technical, operational, and human resource implications) and then consolidate the findings in a final report on the basis of which the training and tools will be designed
- Develop the SWIFT training courses, handouts, operational tools, and guidelines for European SMEs to adapt and implement Smart Working so as to stay afloat, be more responsive, efficient and competitive, all the while improving the work-life balance of their employees.
- Deliver the training to 120 target groups and collect feedback to fine tune the material created
- Develop guidelines to facilitate the uptake of SWIFT and its mainstreaming in VET and SME ecosystems
- Put forward policy options to promote Smart Working and competitiveness of SMEs
In the Project, IHF asbl brings its expertise and experience as a key social player in international and European projects. In particular, IHF asbl ensures the “European Dimension” of the Project as it carries out all the technical tasks from a “European Perspective”, i.e. carrying out analysis of relevant EU policies and initiatives; extrapolating EU relevant case studies, lessons learned and best practices.
For further information on SWIFT SME and other IHF asbl initiatives: